Hillcrest's cold shooting leads to Class 3A loss

Hillcrest shot just 18-of-49 from the field on Friday. Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.com

PEORIA, Ill. -- Hillcrest junior Jovan Mooring's explanation for his team's 60-50 loss to Peoria Central in the Class 3A state semifinals Friday was as simple and precise as possible.

"Shots just weren't falling like they were during the season," Mooring said.

Mooring, an ESPNChicago.com all-area selection, was 0 for 8 from the field. Virgil Fleming was 3 for 11. Kyle Oden was 1 for 10. As a team, Hillcrest was 18 of 49.

It was just one of those days.

Peoria Central (27-3) will play North Chicago for the championship on Saturday. Hillcrest (26-6) will face Springfield Lanphier in the third-place game.

Hillcrest did hang with Peoria Central for a quarter. But with the game tied at 15 after the first eight minutes, the two teams went their separate ways. Peoria Central out-scored the Hawks 14-4 in the second quarter and went ahead 29-19 at halftime. Hillcrest shot 0 for 6 from the field in the second quarter.

The third quarter wasn't any better for Hillcrest. Its offensive woes continued, and Peoria Central extended its lead to 42-26 heading into the fourth quarter.

Hillcrest coach Don Houston thought Peoria Central's large front line did have something to do with some of its problems. The Lions' roster included 6-10 Kevin Jordan, 6-5 Aldonis Foote, 6-7 Trey Kellum and 6-6 Shamar Hill.

"We got to give some credit to Peoria," Houston said. "They have a lot of length in there, and they altered a lot of shots. We've seen some length throughout the season, but them altering a lot of those shots it made us miss some shots that we normally make."

Hillcrest did find some life in the final quarter. The Hawks' shots started finally finding the net, and Hillcrest was able to cut Peoria Central's lead to single digits in the final minutes. Hillcrest outscored Peoria Central 24-18 in the fourth quarter, but it was too late for the Hawks.

"We came out and played a strong fourth quarter, and it shows the character of my players that they've had all season," Houston said. "I'm just extremely proud of them. I'm proud that they didn't lay down, and I'm proud that they went out ahead and fought all the way to the end."

Jayon'e Troutman (13 points, four steals) and Jalen Loving (16 points) led Hillcrest.

Foote (21 points, four steals), Kellum (11 points), Kevin Jordan (10 rebounds) and Myles Boone (10 points) contributed for Peoria Central.